As much as I like to shed weight heading into the backcountry it’s also the time I want the best camera possible.
Over the last few years I’ve experimented with the balance of weight and image quality. On shorter trips, like weekend trips or day hikes, I’ve taken full frame cameras such as the Canon 5DS R, Sony A7Rii and Nikon Z7. A full frame camera is an amazing tool to have in the backcountry but the weight penalty comes at a premium. The only one I’d consider on a longer trip would be the lightest of the 3 above, the Sony A7Rii (or A7Sii if I was shooting more video) weighing in at 22oz w/ card and battery. Weight aside I just really love the Sonys and already use them for non-backcountry travel and professional shoots.
Which brings me to my current solution for a balance of weight and quality: the Sony A6000. There are newer models (A6300, A6500) with extra features but ever the frugal guy I was able to get a used A6000 with a low shutter count for a bargain.
Photos w/ Sony A6000 and Zuiko 28mm f/2.8 lens
The A6000 has an APS-C sensor which isn’t as nice as full frame but in high light for outdoor shooting I feel it does a great job. And it only weighs 11.6oz with battery and card (no body cap). 11.6oz!
Lens-wise my preference is to use a prime lens. I think the image quality is superb and they are typically lighter and faster than zoom lenses. There are drawbacks like a fixed focal length, but I mostly take landscape photos and it ends up not being a big deal for me. If I wanted to take wildlife photos I would definitely look into a zoom.
Again, being a frugal guy I tend to be an opportunist when it comes to lenses (and everything in life). The lens I take with me is an old Olympus Zuiko 28mm f2.8. Yes. That’s what I take. I picked it up at a consignment shop for $20 (they tend to run $50-$75 on eBay). All manual everything. With the crop factor of the Sony APS-C sensor (x1.5) the 28mm becomes a 42mm (if I lost you crop factor explained). To me this lens packs quite a punch for its compact size and the weight isn’t too bad at 6.2oz.
The downsides are the OM to Sony adaptor weighs another 3oz, no auto focus and it’s a sort of atypical focal length for landscapes. I’ve been considering getting a wider lens, something between 18mm and 28mm, and probably will but it’s hard to justify spending the money.
Outside of my camera setup I love the Peak Design Capture clip. To have my camera on my shoulder strap ready to shoot photos means I use my camera a lot more. It’s actually easier to access than my phone.
I also take the Pedco Ultrapod. The tripod is great for long exposure photos (astrophotography) and low light situations (morning, dusk) and I trust it with a lot of weight. If you need a tripod it’s great, but I’ve been finding that I rarely use it and, at 4.2oz, would consider leaving it at home when I’m counting every ounce. It’s not that hard to find a rock or a log to balance the camera on the rare occasion that I use it.
A breakdown of my typical backpacking camera setup (*new version of Capture Clip is even lighter than mine!):